As I fell down the rabbit hole of Instagram late one night, as many of us unhealthily do, I found myself staring at the pictures of people who once were friends, good friends, and I couldn’t shake a feeling of contempt, annoyance and a general disdain.
One photo led to a different person’s profile, which lead to another photo, which led to another person’s profile, and before I knew it, I forgot how I had even gotten to the profile I landed on, especially because I in fact do not follow any of these people. However, curiosity killed the cat, or lion as this story would have it, and I always find it beyond fascinating how people we tend to not enjoy seem to find one another. My guess is they share a similar quality that we’d actively not wanted to be a part of, and like attracts like.
Sitting in the dark, staring at the glowing screen on my phone, the recently popular saying, “ A lion doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep,” came to mind. Here I was a lion, and there they were, a herd of sheep. Yet, I was up later than I wanted to be, and it was in fact because of people I would relate to as sheep.
However, something about that saying felt somewhat unfair, not quite right, and made a lion somehow better than sheep. And while I do not necessarily like all these people because of past interactions, I find it healthier to let things go, and not think myself better than anyone else.
Sure, lions are technically more alpha to sheep, and in a head to head match a lion would greatly out preform a sheep in every possible way, but who’s to say that the lion doesn’t care, or is in fact better? That’s what the statement is implying after all, right?
We’ve all seen the amazingly adorable, and somewhat astonishing videos of animals that shouldn’t be getting along, interacting in such friendly manners, gently playing with each other, caring for one another, and cuddling. There’s the hippo and the dog, the chicken and the cat, the baby deer and the lion.
It was this last duo that seemed to relate somewhat perfectly to what I had been pondering, and got me thinking. How were the two able to interact in such “unnatural” ways? What could possibly be different about this interaction? How had they “befriended” each other?
Then it hit me: Hunger.
Hunger and thirst are what motivate us to act in such “animalistic” ways, and can completely change the interactions that we have. When we aren’t hungry, or hungry for something someone else has we tend to play nice as a whole. Both animal kingdom and mankind are able to shift primal forces into civilized needs.
While a deer and a sheep are in fact not the same, the idea correlates quite easily that normally we’d expect the lion to simply kill and eat the deer, or sheep, but when the lion is not hungry, she sees the deer differently, more complex, more equal.
Primal urges are replaced with an intricate thought.
I don’t know what came of the two animals, but considering this interaction opened my eyes in two specific ways, and helped me identify why I had such a negative reaction to people I once cared deeply for.
Firstly, I had felt hurt because I had been left behind by sheep, a herd, a group of people. Secondly lions are more than meat hungry death eaters.
As I pondered lions and sheep and deer, oh my, I began to understand why my emotions had initially been so strong, and why that specific quote can feel quite empowering. Ultimately, it’s because no one likes to feel left behind.
Here I was late at night, unexpectedly staring at my ex, my ex-friends, and a really promising, but bad first date all hanging out together, appearing to be happy. They had created their herd. Whether or not they’re all friends, in fact happy, or just using the same person for an awesome beach house is unknown to me, but I understand that being a part of a group, or a herd, if you will, feels safer, better, more comfortable.
As I realized the deeper emotions of hurt, loss, and a tinge of sadness I realized it was time to turn off my phone, and to not wish these guys anything but happiness, and if they had found it together than great.
I also came to the realization that while I may feel left out at that one trivial moment late night, I was in fact not alone, and like the lion far more complex. I had allowed myself the moment of hunger, but realized I was not hungry for anything they had at all. I was and am beyond full.
By being left behind by the large herd of sheep, I have been able to find my smaller, but stronger pride of lions. I have been able to satisfy my hunger, and at moments even play nice with the sheep. In general, I have been able to understand that it is ok to still be a lion, and care about the opinion of sheep, but not let it be what affects me, drives me and keeps me up a night.
My pride of lions is one of strength, honor, understanding and a civilized sense of hunger. We treat others as equals, look past our primal thirst and take pride in our pride.
Ultimately, what I have realized is that we aren’t just lions or just sheep, but as we interact with each other, we have the opportunity to take the courage of the lion and marry it with the gentleness of a sheep to move forwards both proud and humble. For if one can be such differing ideas at once then they truly live a life of love.